The Duck Pond #1
This was originally posted at Kommuntorget.
Integrating in Swedish in Finland
Gregory Pellechi gets his feet wet in this introductory episode on integration and life in Finland-Swedish circles.
Welcome to the first episode of the Duck Pond, a podcast the realities of integrating in Finland’s other official language – Swedish. I’m the host of the show Gregory Pellechi, I’m also one of the few who has chosen to learn Swedish in the capital region.
I say few, because up until 2012 there were no Swedish-language integration courses available in the Greater Helsinki region. They were offered elsewhere, such as Ostrobothnia, and obviously Åland. Though not every bilingual municipality in Finland was or is so inclusive.
Swedish being a national language one would think learning it, integrating in it and simply operating in it would NOT be an issue. But the very concept of Swedish can ruffle more than a few feathers. Official status aside, it’s a minority language and one deemed by some to be of little use within Finland.
That hasn’t put me off. My arguments for learning Swedish are many and varied, as you’ll hear throughout this season. When Kommunförbundet offered me this opportunity to produce this, it was with the idea of documenting the possibilities, issues and problems associated with integrating in Swedish.
To talk about Swedish-language integration is to also talk about Finnish. This is not meant to be adebate over the particulars of each language, because they both provide something unique, wonderful and necessary to this world. Both have their merits though their usefulness in gaining employment is questioned. But because immigrants have an option, or at least should have the option between the two languages, they need to know the realities of each choice before they make it.
Integration, regardless of language, is not a simple matter. We want it to be. In Finland, they want it to be a matter of language and work. Get one then get the other. But there are many more dimensions to it. It’s a matter of politics, health, culture, power, acceptance and identity.
If integration is supposed to be a two-way street then what is Finland doing to integrate itself with all its new residents? And how are immigrants going to change Finland? I don’t promise to provide any answers, all I have is questions, which is why the podcast includes the comments and thoughts from more intelligent people than me.
So stay tuned for future episodes.
In this episode: Nora Lindström, Tobias Potzsch, Pia Polsa, Pasi Saukkonen, Corinna Tammenmaa, Susanne Osterlund-Potzsch, Farid Karimi, Ida Schaumann, Katri Saarikivi, Philip Teir, Zulmir Becevic and members of the public.